Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Loving and Losing

In my job I have the pleasure of getting to know many horses and riders. All of which have touched my heart. Recently we had to say good bye to a wonderful friend and horse, Austin. In my life I have said good bye to more people and animals than what I feel is average. Death was also the first fear I remember having.  Now it is time to put that fear to rest.

The fear of death I believe came from watching my Great Grandmother pass away from cancer. Before I was school age my mother was helping tend to her Grandmother in her last months.  My Mother and I went to tend her during the week while my siblings were in school. My Mother was extremely close to her Grandma. I watched my Mother's heart breaking and my Great Grandmother suffering.  It's not that the experience was necessarily frightening, but it was something I couldn't understand. My family was religious and they said that Grandma saw her loved ones as angles calling her home. Even at my young age of not even five I was intrigued by this comment of angels. I questioned the after life for as long as I could remember. Grandma soon left this world and became a tattoo on our hearts. We remembered her gentle touch and the scent of her home. We missed getting together with the family at her house and her famous rhubarb pies. 

In the years to come I would develop a severe anxiety for death. I would remember my Family talking about Grandma Claire's chest pains. Or maybe they didn't say chest pains, but I heard chest pains. And then I began having chest pains. I would never tell anyone though. What would they say? Was I dying?  I wasn't ready for that!  So from about the age of eight to fifteen I cut out all butter that wasn't cooked in by the chef. I didn't butter or salt a single thing for over six years. Because I believed I would die if I did. Doesn't make any sense right?  

I developed panic attacks over death. At seventeen years old I would lie in my bed and feel my heart pound. It must be giving out. I would get short of breath and my arm would go numb. This would happen for about eight months. Then one night I knew it was the last night I would be on this earth. I didn't tell anyone. I was too afraid. But I vowed to see the doctor the following day if in fact I lived. So off to the doctor I went the next morning when I wasn't dead. Instead of being diagnosed with heart failure, which I was sure I had been developing since I was eight years old, they diagnosed me with anxiety and panic attacks. In the next several years I would stabilize and the panic subsided through pharmaceuticals and time . 

In the first thirty years of my life I watched several of my friends and peers die, uncles, dogs, horses, other pets, Grand Parents, Nieces and Nephews, Cousins, my own Father, my Brother in Law and the list goes on.  Isn't it interesting that a person with severe anxiety toward death would see so much of it?  Coincidence?  Or is this a life lesson? It wasn't getting any easier. I got angry and I got numb.  The more People I lost the harder I questioned what came after this. I knew that all could not be lost. I had to believe I would see these people again. I was not fitting in to an organized religion so I was left to start creating my own ideas. I started to realize that religion might just be what each of us individually believe in. Whatever helps us sleep at night.  For me, I had to believe that all of the young beautiful talented people that left this world too early must have had a much greater mission somewhere else. And all the lessons I was learning must be for a reason. Would I start to accept death?  Yes I would.

My little dog Nugget died on impact about six months ago when he was struck by a horse.  I ran to the spot where he lay and found him already limp.  My best friend, my child, my puppy, how could this happen?  I failed him.  It was my job to keep him safe.  I went through all of the mourning stages as usual.  I cried many tears.  Every night I would sleep with his doggie blanket and close my eyes and imagine him next to me.  I decided that Nugget loved birds so every time I saw a bird it would mean Nugget was nearby.  Months passed and I began to heal from Nugget's death.  I thought about the symbol form time to  time.  Nothing unusual was happening.  There were always birds at the barn.  I began to think the symbol failed.  Then one day I started to notice birds in strange places.  Single birds flying in front of my truck going the same direction as me.  A large falcon stayed in the barn for no apparent reason for about 4 days.  I didn't think anything of it.  Suddenly on the drive to California this winter it hit me as two birds circled in the distance next to the freeway.  The Birds!  It's Nugget!  Well you say it could be a coincidence.  There are a lot of birds in this world.  They are everywhere right?  Right!  That's just it.....Nugget never left.  He is still here with me, everywhere.

Over the next several months I would start to truly see how all the people I loved and lost were not far away.  It sounds so cliche I know.  Train yourself to take your mind wherever you want to at any time.  When they say close your eyes and imagine a better place, they really mean that.  Go back and see your lost loved ones.  Or take them in to the future with you.  Just stop yourself and imagine every detail and let your mind take you there.  You will truly find peace.  I started to see the value in all of the things that come in to our life.  Yes a loved one is lost, but a loved one was also shared.  I started to consider myself lucky to have been able to spend the amount of time that I did with each of my lost loved ones.  This life is YOUR journey.  Surround yourself with positive, loving people.  Have a support group.  Be there for each other.  And in the end live your life to the absolute fullest.  Make yourself happy and happiness will follow you. 

I met Austin's family at the clinic earlier in the week to see Austin off on his next journey.  Through my experiences I was able to console a broken family.  I was able to look Austin in the eye and tell him what was happening to him, assure him that the journey continues and watch him visibly take a breath and relax.  For the first time in my life I was able to see death as a new beginning.  It is only the end of a chapter.  The journey will continue not only for the family, but for the animal as well.  I half joked that Austin was going to try and be a darker horse in his next life so that you couldn't see all of the dirt and poop stains on him as he was a white horse the last time around.  But perhaps a newborn baby foal hit the ground at the moment Austin finished his last breath.  And just maybe it's a brown horse this time.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Coming Home!

I am so happy to be sitting down on this site and writing again.  I have been in the most exciting whirlwind for the past several years.  I have learned so many things in my career, in my relationships and in life.  I feel that I am making an earth shattering discovery within myself.  I currently am interested in finding and fulfilling my Dharma. 

Ever since I was a little girl my dreams were vivid, my imagination was wild and my anxiety was high.  I had a very clear vision of my life.  Marriage and children were never the things I dreamed of.  I always knew there was something different out there for me.  I had many ideas about how my life would turn out.  And that's just it.....could I see the future?  Were my dreams vivid for a reason?  Was I crazy?  I felt crazy.  But one thing was always for certain.  I wanted to do something BIG. 

As the years went on the dreaming became normal.  I would occasionally  wake from a dream that I knew was something different.  The World we live in began to replace a lot of my imagination.  I became an Equestrian over two of incredible decades of my life.  Life got fast.  People came and went.  My loved ones lived and died.  My career took off.  My future was looking bright.  As my career took off, I found myself on the road more.  I dreamed my entire life to travel the Horse Show Circuit full time.  And in the last 5 years I did.  Then something happened.  I got to the end.  I got as far as I ever dreamed.  There I was and I was disappointed for some reason.  I spent weeks trying to figure out what went wrong.  Why didn't it feel like I got there?  And then I started to feel it again.  The dreams came back more vivid than ever.  Only now I could see them all the time.  The Universe spoke to me and it told me that the picture was so much greater than what I imagined.  And thus begins the next phase of my life which I can not wait to share with everyone who wants to listen.